Many would find it surprising that Uttarakhand has a transit and rehabilitation centre where nine Guldars (leopards) are kept in cages on charges of killing humans or entering into human settlement areas.

The Chidiyapur Transit and Rehabilitation Centre built on Haridwar-Najibabad Highway houses nine leopards serving their "prison term".

The imprisonment is such that the hope of release is negligible, and thus it becomes "life imprisonment".

These "convicted" leopards include Ruby, Rocky, Dara, Munna, Jat, Mona, Gabbar and Joshi.

A female leopard named Ruby, caught on charges of "human homicide" in 2015 when she was just six years old, is serving a sentence for the last seven years.

These leopards are released into open space for a few hours in daylight and then imprisoned in cages.

They are fed chicken, mutton and meat on six days of a week. While on Tuesday, all nine leopards have to observe a fast.

Thirteen-year-old man-eater Rocky was caught in Tehri's Santala village in 2017.

Similarly, Dara, aged 12, was caught from Kotdwar's Lalpani in 2017. Four-year-old Munna Guldar is locked here since birth due to separation from mother.

On the other hand, 6-year-old Mona was taken to the centre after she had entered DPS School in Rishikesh in 2020. Similarly, 10-year-old Gabbar was caught from Haridwar Forest Division in 2020.

An eight-year-old leopard was caught from Joshimath in 2020 has been named Joshi.

Uttarakhand's Chief Wildlife Warden Sameer Sinha says that this is a rehabilitation centre for wildlife. "Here animals injured in different incidents are brought for treatment and they are again released in their natural habitat after treatment."

However, in the case of leopard, Sinha says that since they become man-eaters, these lepards are imprisoned in cages here and then their release becomes impossible. Due to human touch and being in a cage for a long time, these leopards have become more dreaded under mental stress. Now it is not even possible to release them in the wild.

On Tuesday's fast, the Chief Wildlife Warden says that the animals do not get prey daily in the forest, so they are kept on fast for one day. This also improves their health.